Oi!/Skampilation Vol. #2: Skalloween – Review


Volume #2: Skalloween (Radical)
by SHrude Boy

Recorded live at the sold-out Oi!/Skalloween festival at Coney Island High, NYC in ’95, Skalloween combines old-time ska, ska/punk, and punk rock on one live CD. Back to back favorites, jumping genres like crazy, this compilation shows that fun, energetic music need not be segregated by style. The Slackers open with the “Munsters Theme,” the horns turning it almost into the “Dragnet Theme” instead. Inspecter 7 takes over with “Sharky 17,” evidently a bonus track, and keeps the tight, saxy ska feeling through “Popeye.” The bonus first track provided by The Skoi!Dats, “Goggles & Blinders,” has an intro and chorus of hard punk, but the upbeat guitars and horns of ska during the verses. “Roots A’Walkin'” stays more in the smooth and sexy ska style, but shoots off into oddly-timed jazz, probably making the dancefloor look like an outing for epileptics. Pist’N’Broke break into Oi! with swallowing-the-mic vocals about unity in “Done By The Union Boys,” then skank along with an out-of-tune sax in “Pist’N’Broke.” The result sounds like a constipated man dropping an accordion down a flight of stairs, bitching about it, and clomping after it wearing heavy boots. “Up The System” by Blanks 77 jumps in and cranks the old school punk. “Final Solution” keeps the raw punk flowing, and the group chants help mask the incoherent vocals. The Krays offer their brand of chanting punk, but the out-of-tune guitar makes “Tax The Rich” practically unlistenable. “Too Lazy” is better, creating such a melee it all blends into frantic fun. The Furys‘ “Human Outrage” sounds so much like The Krays, only tighter, I wouldn’t have noticed it was a different song had I not looked at the track number. Skinnerbox break up the monotony with “You Knock The Wind Out Of Me.” Great high-steppin’ fun with loads of reeds and horns, not to mention a dynamic singer and a versatile keyboardist. Featuring members of Stubborn All-Stars and Rancid, Skinnerbox is a band to watch! Boston’s Skavengers pour in on during “Good At Everything,” earning the right to such a song title. Danceable and filled with a wide variety of sounds (not the least of which is a female harmonizing), Skavengers are pure peppy madness. Skinnerbox returns with “Help Me,” a subtle ska sway trip with unenunciated lyrics that soothe like a religious chant. Soothing, in an eerie way, and almost sleepy. Ruder Than You close up shop with “Justice,” a shake-yer-bootie ska number filled with soulful “yeah, yeah, yeah”s and inspiring “shickitta-shickitta-shickitta”s. Overall, it’s a shame to have ska-steppin’ fools run circles around juvenile-sounding punk bands, but it could’ve been that the PA was set up for energetic fun, rather than aggressive power. The punk bands, without the aide of crisp, strong sound, overloaded their mics and drowned in their own distortion like fresh-from-the-garage novices. Which they aren’t, by the way. The shining moments on this disc come, hands down, from the talented skasters.